If you ask why mentors are important, there are so many reasons it is essential to have a mentor during pivotal points in your career. There is data out there that suggests mentors were a vital part of the success of some of our most prominent executives. In certain crafts and the art world, people study under someone to learn techniques, styles and to seek inspiration. Trades where precision is critical like construction, more specifically carpentry, electricians, welders and brick layers for example, there are some forms of apprenticeships. In the medical profession, those studying to become doctors perform in residency programs under the leadership of more experienced doctors and surgeons.
Mentors in the Business World
So, if it is so important in certain professions to have a mentor, why is there less focus in the business world? Some companies are great at incorporating formal mentorship programs. Other companies do informal mentoring programs. At some companies, you feel like it’s sink or swim. There’s nobody to show you the ropes or mentor you.
What To Expect from A Mentor
Mentors typically help accelerate learning. You get the benefit of their knowledge, expertise, and you can avoid common pitfalls by learning from their mistakes. If you have a solid mentor that knows how to navigate through the politics of an organization and gain visibility in the company, that is invaluable. A mentor should provide honest feedback. They guide you through your career progression, serve as a sounding board and help you to grow professionally.
Data About Mentors
There was a study of over 3,000 executives and over 60% of them reported having a mentor relationship. Furthermore, those with mentors had higher earnings earlier in their career. Their self-report shows they were happier in terms of their career path and progress. Many of these participants in turn decided to mentor others when they were further along in their careers. It was likely a combination of things. The mentee may have wanted to give back because someone took an interest in their career and they decided to pay it forward. They also likely saw the advantages to the mentor relationship in helping them rise within their careers.
It is important to be proactive in seeking out a mentor. If there’s a formal program in place at your company, make sure you express your interest. However, if there isn’t one, there’s a little more leg work involved. You want to seek out someone that you connect with, someone who you admire or that may have expressed an interest in your career. Although it will be great to have a mentor at your company, be flexible. Consider people you know outside of work as well. This will open up more opportunities to explore the mentor relationship.
Mentoring is an invaluable experience that can help you achieve career fulfillment and future success in your career progression. It can help you focus and make strides that you may have thought unrealistic at one point. Data does support how vital that relationship is. Although in certain professions, it is more common, why should that stop you. Your career is worth the time and effort.